Dog on log's identity uncovered

KIM KNIGHT
Last updated 05:00 15/06/2014

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The castaway canine rescued from a floating log by the Navy near Great Barrier Island on Friday can be revealed as a semi-retired pig-hunting dog called Tiny.

"He's a sea dog," joked owner, Ben Ngawaka, 20.

The pair were heading into the island's Port Fitzroy harbour, about 20 minutes by boat from their Rangihuai Island home, when Tiny jumped ship.

Ngawaka, who works in the family crayfishing business, said he'd stopped to examine a large log in the water and hadn't realised Tiny had hopped off for a closer look.

"I was going into Fitzroy to get some supplies - I just carried on and thought I'd pick him up on the way home."

Unbeknown to Ngawaka, Tiny had already been spied by the Navy who suspected the dog was washed out to sea during Tuesday's ferocious storm.

Lieutenant Anthony Norris, commanding officer of the in-shore patrol vessel Hawea, said in his decade in the Navy "it is one of the more interesting things I've seen in the water . . . He was sitting on this log in the middle of the harbour and he turned around and watched us sail past. And then he sat back down on his log."

Norris said there was a large amount of debris, including logs, in the water as a result of the storm. Four naval crew went back for the dog.

"They asked if it could be the ship's mascot - we hold a couple of kennels onboard for police dogs - but I told them to take it ashore to the police station. Luckily, they got it ashore and someone knew who it belonged to and it was reunited with its owner."

Navy photographs showed Tiny swaddled in blankets by the Hawea crew.

"I'm pretty sure they were just trying to keep the dog warm. That's what they claim," said Norris.

"They definitely won't admit it - but I think they may have had a slightly soft spot for the dog."

Images of Tiny's rescue appeared on Britain's Daily Mail website, America's Fox News and Australia's Nine News.

Ngawaka said his 8 year old cattle-dog cross was generally "pretty quiet".

And after the international media attention? "He's still the same. He just got a feed and that was it."

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- Sunday Star Times

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